WHEN my oldest friend Nick said he’d bought a cottage as a holiday let, I figured it was only polite to get ourselves booked in for a week and try it out.
So that’s how we found ourselves winging our way up the motorway for a week to be spent in the very lovely Puffin Cottage.
Nick’s cottage is situated in the unspoilt Northumbrian village of Alnmouth, which, unsurprisingly from the name, is at the mouth of the River Aln.
And Alnmouth itself is four miles outside of Alnwick, the town best known for its castle which was the setting for all seven Harry Potter films, and has made countless other big-screen appearances.
The whole week was designed to be something of a recce-ing trip. We – me, my teenage son Harry (H for short) and my mum and dad – were looking for a replacement holiday destination for the ‘olds’ nearer to home than their usual Scottish hideaway.
What we wanted was somewhere they could get to by coach, had everything they needed nearby and was accessible by bus or hire car (if absolutely necessary), driven by my mum, the rather reluctant chauffeur.
And, of course, as they planned to spend at least two or three weeks there, it had to have all the home comforts they needed.
Puffin Cottage was – quite simply – perfect. We’d been inside for precisely two minutes when my parents decided this would be their new holiday home.
The cottage is in a row on Northumberland Street, the main road running through the village of Alnmouth.
There is no parking outside the front of the cottage, as there are yellow lines, but we found parking no problem down Argyle Street, which is where the back gate to the row – and Puffin Cottage – is situated.
The cottage itself is delightful. All the mod cons you need, but retaining a real warmth and quaintness.
The living-cum-dining room seats four people comfortably, and has a dining table with five chairs. There is a TV, DVD and video with a small library of DVDs and books and a collection of retro board games if you should be unlucky enough to be troubled by poor weather.
There is also an iPod docking station for music. The room also boasts a beautiful – and functional – fireplace. A supply of logs can be organised if needed.
The kitchen is compact but has everything you need to whip up a feast. It is equipped with fridge, dishwasher, oven, hob and a combination microwave, and everything you need from a colander to egg cups. You’ll find a freezer in the outhouse.
Also downstairs is the bathroom, which has a shower, toilet, hand basin and a heated towel rail.
The two bedrooms are upstairs. The double has a built-in wardrobe, a comfy reading chair, radio alarm clock and another iPod dock.
The twin beds are in ‘The Green Room’, and there is also plenty of space for clothes with underbed drawers and a wardrobe in there too.
You can’t leave the upstairs without taking a look out of the bedroom windows and glimpsing the beach and sea view. Absolutely brilliant!
I ran on the beach early each morning during our stay, sharing the sands only with early-rising dog walkers, then stood on the sand dunes and watched as the sun came up.
Outside Puffin Cottage is a lovely decked area with table and chairs – perfect for a relax and a glass of wine and taking in the evening air, or eating al fresco, of course.
The outbuilding houses an extra fridge, if it’s needed, a deep freeze, a washing machine and a tumble dryer. There are also four mountain bikes available for the use of visitors, and a collection of beach toys.
Dogs are always welcome at Puffin Cottage, but must be kept downstairs and not left alone in the house during the day. Although, why anyone would want to leave their dog behind when they are in one of the best dog-walking parts of the country, I simply don’t know.
Non-dog owners needn’t worry – there is no evidence of dogs whatsoever at Puffin Cottage – neither hair nor smell – so it looks like holidaymakers have been following the canine rules!
Puffin Cottage is a great base, whether you want to explore beautiful Northumberland on foot or by car. There are historic castles and buildings in abundance, interesting market towns nearby and a spectacular coastline to visit.
If you don’t want to venture too far, Alnmouth boasts three good pubs, restaurants, a shop, tea rooms, a post office/shop and two golf clubs.
I love my holidays, but am usually ready for home by the end. My stay in Puffin Cottage and magical Alnmouth was unusual in that I could have stayed.
If your idea of bliss is a stunning beach less than a minute away, a village with all the charms of a seaside resort but none of the commercial razzamatazz, and all the peace and quiet you need in buckletloads, Puffin Cottage is the destination for you.
WEEKLY rental rates for Puffin Cottage for 2014 start at £295 (low season), up to £695 for peak weeks.
Weeks are booked from Friday to Friday.
Puffin Cottage sleeps four in two bedrooms – one double and one twin.
Bookings or inquiries about any special offers or discounts available can be made by contacting Puffin Cottage on 01665 830 356 (day), 01665 833 709 (evenings) or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Further information about the cottage, the area and how to book can be found online at puffin-cottage.co.uk